Ruto: Tax evaders in Uhuru regime sponsoring Raila Odinga's poll protest rallies

William Ruto

President William Ruto (centre) National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula (left) and Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir (right) during the opening of the post-election seminar for members of the 13th Parliament in Mombasa City yesterday.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto yesterday claimed opposition protest rallies are being financed by people he didn’t name but who, he said, were keen on evading payment of taxes.

In response to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, which has vowed to continue with its nationwide rallies stemming from the disputed 2022 election, the President said no amount of political intimidation would change his administration’s stand and constitutional requirements on payment of taxes.

The Head of State asked Azimio leader Raila Odinga to try a different strategy.

 “Even if they sponsor demonstrations so that they don’t pay tax, I want to promise them that they will pay tax. There are no more exemptions. This country is not an animal farm, where some are more equal than others.”

“We are going to have a society where every citizen carries their fair share of our [tax] burden. I am not talking about additional taxes [but] taxes that have been agreed upon by Parliament and signed into law,” President Ruto told MPs in Mombasa yesterday.

This came as the game of political brinkmanship between the opposition and the executive over the alleged 2022 General Election fraud continued yesterday with Dr Ruto challenging Mr Odinga to come clean on allegations that his victory was stolen.

President Ruto said Mr Odinga’s fresh claims that former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati visited his home before the elections cannot go unchallenged.

The Head of State instead asked the former prime minister to disclose why he invited the IEBC officials to his home.

“I understand prosecutors come under immense pressure for other political interests. Yesterday I was listening to one of our politicians who was alleging that IEBC officials went to his house. He is telling these stories five months after the act. He is volunteering this information with insinuations that the officials went for something he has not disclosed,” the President said.

What were IEBC officials doing in your house? Ruto fires at Raila

Speaking while opening the 16th Annual General Meeting and Conference of Africa Prosecutors Association in Mombasa County, the President wondered why Mr Odinga did not share the allegations with the Supreme Court, only opting to do so during a public rally at Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi on Sunday.

Addressing his supporters in Embakasi East constituency, Mr Odinga said Mr Chebukati was accompanied by two former commissioners, Prof Abdi Guliye and Mr Boya Molu.

President Ruto wondered what the officials were doing at Mr Odinga’s house and how a presidential candidate ended up inviting officials of an electoral agency to his house.

The President said that the government remained committed to promoting public confidence, constitutionalism and the rule of law by respecting and upholding the independence of national institutions, eradicating undue influence and weaponising of the criminal justice system.

He rubbished claims his government has captured the criminal justice system to have graft cases against his allies withdrawn. The concerns come after a series of withdrawal of corruption-related charges touching on people regarded as the President’s political allies.

The opposition has been accusing Dr Ruto of putting the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions under pressure to drop corruption-related charges against his close associates.

“We have not and I have told them that we have not asked the DPP’s office to do any favour for us in return for funding of their office,” Dr Ruto said.

He said he has ensured austerity measures in the budget proposal that will be presented to parliament soon. The scope of the budgetary ambitions is dictated by the ability to finance it through the available revenue-raising measures.

“We cannot continuously have an oversize budget and imagine there will be some miracles that will happen. When I came into office I found a budget in which we were to borrow Sh900 billion. I thought that was reckless and irresponsible and cut it down to Sh600 billion. I will present our revised budget that will actualise the commitment I made to the country,” he added.

National Assembly Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi had earlier criticised Dr Ruto’s administration, saying, the cost of living has been constantly going up despite promises to regulate it. The Ugunja MP said the government must stop burdening Kenyans.

“We [MPs] can force the executive to make changes and make life bearable for Kenyans. We must take a stand,” he said.

MPs also discussed a review of standing orders to allow Cabinet secretaries to appear before Parliament to answer questions directly from the lawmakers.